Drivers who illegally use handicap parking plates and decals soon will face stricter fines and penalties under legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law today.
Starting Jan. 1, fines for unauthorized use of placards for people with disabilities will increase from $500 to $600. Fines for those who make counterfeit placards or use the parking passes in the absence of a qualified holder double from $500 to $1,000. Additionally, doctors who submit false paperwork to help someone get a handicap plate or placard who doesn’t need it will face a new $1,000 fine. Penalties increase for repeat offenders.
“It is against all laws of human decency for you to be able-bodied but yet you are going to take advantage of program set aside for those in need,” said Secretary of State Jesse White, whose police force conducts stings targeting illegal handicap parking. “If you don’t belong there, don’t park there.”
Those who use handicap placards of people who have died face an even tougher punishment, with fines starting at $2,500 combined with a mandatory suspension of driving privileges for six months. Repeat offenders could have their licenses revoked.
Meanwhile, Quinn’s action also eliminated the parking meter fee exemption for those with disability placards. That means those with handicapped placards will have to pay parking meters unless they are unable to access or operate a parking meter. Supporters of the move say the free parking program has been widely abused and resulted in lost revenue for cities across the state. That measure goes into effect in 2014.
In all cases, enforcement will be key.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun